Apostolic Christianity: The Halacha of Jesus

Halacha - this Hebrew word means "the guidelines" for living a godly lifestyle - for us it is how to live "The Way" of the Jesus-taught lifestyle. Bookmark this blog and learn what He taught His Apostles - Learn about the Jesus-taught Way of Godly living as the Apostles taught others - the true Christianity learned directly from living with Jesus. This is His Halacha - the rules for living holy and understanding the Word of God.

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Kenneth E. Lamb has written for first-tier information organizations of excellence such as the New York Times, the Miami Herald, the St. Petersburg Times, and the Jewish Information Network. His research, studies, and articles have appeared in 127 countries.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Who are the Angels?

"Then they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but having entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass that while they were in a quandary concerning this, behold, two men stood by them in apparel that flashed like lightning. And they having become fear-stricken and bowing their faces to the ground, they said to them, Why are you seeking the One who is living among those who are dead?"

(Wuest's Expanded Translation, Luke 24:2 - 5)

By Kenneth E. Lamb

Browser version: http://www.kennethelamb.com/rt/an/an0212.htm

Of all the messages delivered to humanity by the angels, this one delivered on Easter morning stands as the crux of Christianity. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:32, "If the dead do not rise, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'"

But today's New Age movement is perverting the message -- and the role -- of angels. Desperately seeking "heavenly" approval for their self-centered morality, angels have become the focus of New Age worship. They are characterized as always approving, always protecting, never judging.

Feminist theologians have turned them into a pathway to rationalizing the "She God" they call Sophia, replacing 6,000 years of masculine characterization with their intellectualized fantasy of goddess worship.

For example, a quick search of the Yahoo! World Wide Web data base reveals dozens of angel-related sites such as An Angel a Day, featuring stories, quotes and poems; for a central web site, there is the Angel Ring which averages nearly 1,000 visitors a month; and Gabriel, Guardian of Winter, the most blatant angel-worship web site, offers visitors the opportunity to hyperlink to Seasonal Alignment & Rhythm for "more information how to align to the energy shifts of the seasons."

But the real winner in the race for web hits is Angels on the Net (www.netangel.com) whose counter shows nearly 26,000 visitors each month. When the page opens, stereo music and the opportunity to hear the voice of an angel greets visitors with each page they select at the site.

Don't kid yourself into thinking this is for flakes. Angels on the Net boasts advertisements from the United American Bank of Central Florida, First Heritage Mortgage Corporation, Southeast Recycling Corp., and American Dental Plan, to name just 4 of more than a couple dozen businesses spending their marketing dollars to reach the "angel" audience.

What is the theme of these sites? Consider as an example this lead-in from Angel Guidance, which purports to put you in touch with your "guardian" angel:

"Do you believe in angels? Do you believe in miracles from God? How would you feel if you knew you could have daily communication with your guardian angel? My name is Fran Lenzo and I am blessed by the presence of my Guardian Angel John, who has been communicating with me ever since the day he gave me a message from our Divine Father in 1994. Please join us on our angelic journey to learn more about the joy of having an "angel in-house." Thank You and God Bless."

But for sheer pop penetration, nothing seems to surpass Betty Eadie's Embraced By the Light. It spent more than 66 weeks on the New York Times' Best Seller list, retailing over 2-million copies. Its success so shook the publishing world that Bantam Books reportedly paid an astronomical $1.5-million for the paperback rights. Despite being filled with Gnosticism, Mormonism, and New Age theology, many who identify themselves as Christians devoured the book's message.

What is the truth about angels? Are you telling the world what God has revealed about His heavenly creatures on the basis of Scriptural authority? Or are you also falling prey to the Satanic lies that make angels warm and fuzzy companions who are always ready to bail us out of our troubles without ever rendering any moral judgments? Only the Bible can measure where you stand.

The most concise reference on the subject is found in Doctrines of the Bible, edited by the Reverends J.L. Hall and David Bernard (Word Aflame Press, Hazelwood, MO, 1993). The book's article on angels by scholar, pastor, missionary and church leader Ralph V. Reynolds runs the gamut from their characteristics to their ministry, and then explains what the Bible reveals about the fallen angels.

In one paragraph alone, the Rev. Reynolds debunks the bulk of New Age, pseudo-Christian cults and feminist lies, setting us straight in our thinking about angels: "Angels are spirits; thus they are immaterial and incorporeal (Hebrews 1:7). They are invisible but have the power to manifest themselves in human form in order to be seen by people. They are not the spirits of the departed, nor are they glorified human beings. They are nonhuman spirit beings with individual personalities."

According to the thinking of first century Judaism that was the apostles' world, the angels are the "us" God refers to in Gen. 1:26. This story from The Midrash Says by Rabbi Moshe Weissman (Benei Yakov Publications, New York, 1980), the Midrash being the oral exegesis of the Torah dating from about 100 years before Jesus and put into written form beginning in the second Christian century, powerfully presents the concept:

"Moses wrote down the Torah according to HaShem's (Hebrew for "The Name") dictation. When HaShem told him to record the passuk (passage) "Let us make man," Moses objected. "Master of the Universe," he asked, "why do You give apikorsim (heretics) an opportunity to err and deduce from this plural form that there was more than one God who created man?"

"Write as I told you!," HaShem answered him. "If someone wishes to err, let him err."

Rabbi Weissman then notes, "HaShem indicated that misconstruing Torah does not stem from intellectual misconception, heresy is rooted in faulty character. HaShem stated, 'If someone wishes to err, let him err,' since a man whose wish and desire is to misinterpret Torah will forever find a pretext to do so, if not the phrase, 'Let us make man,' then another."

Interestingly, early Christianity did not see the visit of three men to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom as that of three angels; they believed instead that God Himself appeared to the Patriarch accompanied by two angels.

It was the Jewish commentator Rabbenu Sh'lomo Yarchi, known by his acronym Rashi, who began the three angels story around AD 1000, in order to preserve rabbinic Judaism's denial that God could become flesh and dwell with humanity. So-called mainstream Christianity bought into Rashi's anti-Christian apologetics designed to stop Jewish conversions and now teaches this anti-Christianism as its doctrine.

According to Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Judaism, as expressed by the unequaled Alexandrian Jewish philosopher Philo Judaeus, believed in "two Angels which accompanied God (the Divine Word) when on his way to destroy the cities on the plain" at the very time Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem.

And we know from the writing of Eusebius Pamphilus, whose Ecclesiastical History written in the fourth century preserves a snapshot of early church life, that this interpretation of Genesis still existed 400 years later: "The Lord God, therefore, appeared as a common man to Abraham, whilst sitting at the oak of Mamre. And he, immediately falling down, although he plainly saw a man with his eyes, nevertheless worshipped him as God, and entreated him as Lord."

This partially explains why so many first century Jews could easily believe Jesus is God manifested in flesh -- the concept was already an accepted part of their theology -- and would remain so for the next thousand years!

Altogether, angels recorded in Scripture make 104 appearances to humanity, although Hebrews 13:2 opens the door to believing there are other unrecorded interactions. In every case when gender is noted, they are male, garmented in white or other dazzling clothing. We only know the names of four: Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer, and Abaddon. We also know when they exercised their free-will; one-third sinned, choosing Lucifer over God. Their fate is the same as sinful humanity's: eternal torment in the Lake of Fire.

The most grievous lie perpetrated on today's culture is angel worship. It takes the form of prayer to angels for deliverance and making them, instead of God, the creators of moral standards.

The ability to fall into angel worship twice caused the apostle John to fall in Heaven itself according to the Book of Revelation. In each case, he, and we through his revelation, are reminded angels are fellow servants and to "worship God!"

The second half of society's angel relationship -- the desire for "angel approval" of our lifestyle -- reflects the moral relativism that is America today. Because the theology of angel worship is a lie, the "Anything Goes!" morality characterizing the worldly lifestyle fits right in with angels who only comfort and never confront.

But we know angels will be the greatest confrontational force ever unleashed on humanity; just as they announced the birth and everlasting life of our Savior, so too they will announce his return.

They will pour the bowls of affliction on humanity John bitingly describes in Revelation, and one will receive the honor of chaining Lucifer and casting him into the Second Death.

But for the saved living in truth, angels will be our eternal partners worshipping Jesus. We will sing praises together and share the streets of the New Jerusalem, and see what John saw in Revelation 15: 2 - 4:

"And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.

"They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

"Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested."

Why will we share this great vision? Because we heeded the message of the angels: We did not seek death, but instead looked for the living One.
- 30 -

All Scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version of the Bible.

Originally published at: http://www.kennethelamb.com/rt/an/an0212pfv.htm

Republished at: http://thehalachaofjesus.blogspot.com/

Complete index of Mr. Lamb’s blogs: http://www.blogger.com/profile/14444338

Friday, April 07, 2006

Jesus teaches Trinitarianism is a lie

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"

Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one . . .’”

So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

But after that no one dared question Him.
(Mark 12:28-34, NKJV)

Jesus confirms the Nature of God
One of the vilest denials of Biblical Truth is saying Jesus never spelled out the exact Nature of God. The truth is Jesus confirmed God is One person.

This means the Trinitarian interpretation of God’s Nature, saying that God is made up of three persons, is unbiblical and therefore, ungodly.

Our passage comes from the Gospel of Mark, written by John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but got homesick and returned to Jerusalem.

When he volunteered to go on the second journey, Paul objected and had a falling out with Barnabas over the issue. Paul went on with Silas; John Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus. Eventually, however, Paul and John Mark reconciled.

Peter’s teachings; Mark’s gospel
Mark’s gospel doesn’t tell us who wrote it. According to the Nelson Bible Dictionary, Papias (A.D. 60-130), a bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor (Turkey), said, “Mark, an interpreter of Peter,” wrote it. Mark was Peter’s secretary in Rome taking accurate sermon notes.

The church historian Eusebius (about A.D. 300) confirms this. It makes sense. The gospel reads like an eyewitness report, consistent with Peter’s experiences.

Mark was present when the Temple rulers arrested Jesus; he was the young man who fled naked (Mark 14:51-52). Since Mark wrote the gospel with Peter in Rome, we can date it to about A.D. 60, the first gospel written.

Mark targets Gentiles, specifically Romans. He translates Aramaic and Hebrew phrases, transliterates familiar Latin expressions into Greek, and casts Romans in a neutral or favorable light. Its emphasis on suffering suggests he wrote it to encourage Roman Christians persecuted by Nero.

It lives today to encourage us. Mark writes what Peter taught.

This study focuses on Jesus’ conversation with a teacher of the law, referred to in the King James Version as a scribe. The scribes were Pharisees and the accepted authorities on questions concerning God’s Law (Torah – Genesis through Deuteronomy) and applying it to life (Halacha - “The Way” to live life in compliance with God’s Law).

The “powerful” confront Jesus in the Temple
The conversation between the two occurs when Jesus is in Jerusalem for the fourth of 5 times the week of His crucifixion. He enraged the High Priest the day before by overturning the Temple court tables the High Priest rented out to moneychangers and merchants selling religious items.

The High Priest’s anger had little to do with preserving the Temple’s holiness. The Roman occupiers let the High Priest make money by renting spaces for a slice of the revenue. Jesus was bad for business; He was cutting into the High Priest’s profits.

When Jesus arrived in the Temple courts the next day, priests (Sadducees), religious teachers (scribes), powerful family and tribal heads (elders), and politicians (Herodians) confronted Him.

Their goal was to humiliate Him in front of everybody and stop Him from teaching Halacha (“The Way” of life) to the people. They asked Him religious questions they couldn’t answer, and didn’t think He could answer either.

He impresses one of the religious teachers with His answers fending off a direct assault on His authority, followed by a trick question about paying taxes to Caesar, and a third asking about the resurrection.

Is God one “person,” or three?
This sets the stage for Jesus to tell us how many “persons” are in the entity we call God. You need to know the truth because it directly affects your salvation. You need to know whom you worship and who hears your prayers.

First, some background on how the idea that there are three persons called a trinity making up God originated.

Beginning about A.D. 325, religious leaders taught followers to split God up into 3 parts, or “persons.” This doctrine is Trinitarianism, from which we get the word Trinity. It rejects the Bible’s teaching that the same One God, and only One God, appears to humanity as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

According to their teaching, each of those three is a separate and distinct person, exactly the same way you and I are separate and distinct individuals. Trinitarians say these “persons” are independent beings acting in agreement with one another in all they do.

They teach you will see three “gods” in Heaven.

All churches that officially teach this theory about God’s composition, regardless of the church’s name or how the individual pastor tries to soften or bend these teachings are Trinitarian.

No matter how much they claim in their church and literature they teach first-century Christianity, they don’t.

Did any Apostle ever believe what Trinitarians teach? Did Jesus ever teach what they teach?

The Bible proves it: When asked the most important commandment of all, Jesus recited Deuteronomy 6:4.

After telling the religious teacher “the LORD our God is One,” the religious teacher tells Jesus He is telling the truth. Of course, Jesus knows it is the truth; He is God, and so He is talking about Himself.

But the religious leader doesn’t know that yet about Jesus.

Regardless, here is the central thought about this conversation: It is impossible for God to lie, and it is impossible for God to allow someone to remain believing a lie after conversing with that person.

That means only one thing; Jesus left the religious leader believing that the Jewish concept of One God is, in fact, the truth. If the trinity really did exist, Jesus could not walk away from him and leave a lie in his heart. If the trinity is true, Jesus must tell the truth to the religious leader.

But Jesus did not describe a trinity as the true nature of God. Jesus reinforced the religious leader's already held belief in One God, as the Jews understood Him to exist. By walking away from the religious leader at this point, Jesus leaves him believing the truth about the nature of God; God is One, as He revealed Himself to the Jews in the She’ma Yisrael.

Jesus is directly teaching there is One God, as understood by the Jews in Jerusalem in the first century CE. By doing this, Jesus is tossing the Trinitarian concept of God into the trashcan of beliefs about God.

Anyone who teaches you that God exists as three persons is calling Jesus a liar. Whom do you believe, the human who calls Jesus a liar; a human who presents a confused explanation of what constitutes God, who tells you that what came straight from the mouth of Jesus is not the truth?

Or do believe Jesus Himself, who tells you God is One?

It’s always been God’s teaching that He is One
Since the time of Moses to this very day, every Jew, including Jesus during His time on Earth, repeats Deuteronomy 6:4 (called She’ma Yisrael – “Hear, O Israel!”). Jesus taught it is the most basic belief about God.

In His manifestation as pure spiritual Being in the Old Testament, He commanded all Jews to repeat it when arising and before going to sleep.

It’s required; repeating the She’ma Yisrael is not optional.

Because God’s Word never changes, it’s just as true for us in the New Testament Church as it was for Jesus.

So, when Jesus said, “the LORD our God is One,” what did it mean to the religious teacher?

When one Jewish religious teacher tells another Jewish religious teacher God is One, they understand each other to mean:

1 We always write about or discuss God in the singular. He is the only absolute reality, since all else is dependent on Him. There is no Creator and power but Him.

2 God’s essence is One, although we can perceive Him through various attributes. Think of light through a prism. It is simultaneously one, and yet made up of various wavelengths from red to violet. God appears in several manifestations – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - but He is still only One in being, like the single ray of light.

3 He is One unconfined by space or time. He is everywhere, always, without past, present or future.

4 He is the Sole God. He has no “partners” ruling in Heaven with Him.

These points, especially the last, are where Jesus and today’s Trinitarian churches part company. You can see for yourself that He taught the religious leader God, revealed in Deuteronomy 6:4, is One, not three.

Trinitarians don’t believe, and don’t teach, what Jesus taught. There is no way around it – to teach anything in direct contradiction to what Jesus taught is to call Jesus a liar.

It is impossible therefore, to accept any explanation for the true nature of God except that He is One, not three.

Why? Because Jesus said, it is the truth. He is God manifested in flesh. He cannot lie.

If you follow “The Way” taught by Jesus, then you reject the trinity. You accept the Halacha taught by Jesus: God is One.

Anyone who tries to lead you into believing the trinity is the truth is leading you into believing a lie.

Why does it matter?
Why is this vital to your salvation? Because now you know that you worship God in “The Way” that He truly exists.

When you pray, you know to whom you are praying. You are praying to One God, not three persons.

Trinitarians can’t honestly tell you who hears your prayers. Is it their idea of “the Father,” or is it “the Son,” or is it “the Holy Ghost?”

Remember, they teach that all three are independent beings, separate from one another, they are all “God.” This means there are three gods – do you honestly believe in your heart there are three gods in Heaven?

They are telling you to forget what Jesus taught, they are telling you Jesus allowed the religious leader to believe a lie. In fact, they are telling you God lied to everyone in the Bible about Himself.

Whose report will you believe; God or the humans?

When you call out to God, which of the three are you addressing? Since each is an independent person, should you pray to all three persons – and if you don’t, are you failing to talk to all that constitutes God as the Trinitarians teach He exists?

And because each of the three has a different “role” in the universe according to the Trinitarians, are you supposed to pray to one in particular in some circumstances, but to another if the situation is different?

Jesus never taught anything even remotely resembling what the Trinitarians teach. When you call on Jesus’ Name, you are calling on God in every way He has revealed Himself to humanity, as He expanded His reach to the Gentiles.

We baptize in the Name of Jesus because Jesus commanded the Apostles to baptize others in His Name.

Jesus Christ: One-God Preacher; we teach God is One because that is the only way the Bible says Jesus taught it.